Hyderabad: In a significant research aimed at improving the
overall health of skin, Indian research teams have successfully used
medicinal plants like neem and Tulsi to dye fabrics to make them
bacteria- and germ-free.
Natural colours obtained from dry leaves of neem (Azadirachta indica)
and Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) are used to dye fabrics made of protein
like silk and wool, and cellulose like rayon and jute. Neem and Tulsi
dyes not only gave fastness to the colour, but also kept microorganism
at bay, thus protecting the wearer from a variety of skin bacteria,
fungi and viruses.
Moreover, the colours obtained from these Indian medicinal plants are
non-toxic, eco-friendly and biologically compatible with the human
body, particularly the delicate skin. Patents have been applied for
the medicinal dyes.
A team of private researchers from Hyderabad used Tulsi leaves and
stem to dye fabric. The team found that the healing properties of
Tulsi are retained even in the garments. The dyes obtained from Tulsi
gave uniformity of colour, sheen and luster. The dyes showed
anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties.
In another research, Rashi Agarwal and her team from the clothing and
textiles department of Pantnagar University tested colours obtained
from dry neem leaves in acidic, alkaline and aqueous media. The team
found that light colours are obtained at two per cent concentration of
neem leaves. At 5 per cent concentration, dark colours were obtained.
“Different colours were obtained from neem leaves and their fastness
test showed that neem leaves can be used successfully for dyeing,” she
Neem contains a tannin compound that helps in improving the depth and
fastness properties of the medicinal dye. Since the colour goes deep
into the yarn, there will be no colour bleeding. The medicinal
properties remain in the fabric and keep the skin in a healthy
condition, preventing attacks by bacteria and fungi. The fabric also
retains the healing properties of neem.